Saturday, March 27, 2010

What I've been working on

I took a break from painting for awhile. And now I am feeling the urge again. I was mostly painting small illustration type stuff, you can see some of it all at the bottom of my blog in a handy little slide show.

A few years ago, Larry retired and I was working part time in a little Deli in town. And I wasn't really making any money so I started selling my little paintings on Ebay. Larry joined in and sold a few too. Then Ebay started getting too big for it's britches and a lot of people started calling it "feebay" and I scaled back my listings until I just wasn't doing it any more.

Then summer before last I painted a few angels on large pieces of wood and sold them but still not happy with Ebay, by then a LOT of Artists had moved on and there just isn't the same customer base there. So I stopped. But now I am feeling it again, and will probably start putting a few small ones in my Etsy Shop.

Anyway, this is what I did today. It is mixed media on an old book cover. I am going to add some beads on the bottom and a nice ribbon hanger.

"this magic moment"

Earth Hour No Sweat Here.

So did you turn your electricity off? Or just the lights? Or did you just have it all going as usual but you thought about turning it off?

We turned it all off, but mainly out of respect. Respect for those who did turn it all off and had a hard time being without it.
We don't mind, and kind of like it all off. And as far as calling attention to climate change, well I'm not sure what effect one hour is going to have an attention to the concern.
I try not to debate politics on my blog. I have places I go to do that.

When I met Larry he was living in a tipi and building a house in Vermont. After I left then went back almost a year later he was living in the house. There was no electricity, running water or telephone. It was in the woods. And here we are 40 years later, in the woods of Ohio.
We do have electricity and phones. We do not have county water or sewage.
And when we first came out to these woods, we lived in a tent for 3 months camping first on a friends land while we searched for our land. Then we moved our tent here while we cleared an area for our house and started building.
We had a nice set up, tent on a wooden platform, mattresses on the tent floor, a grill and a nice camp stove, kerosene lamps, a shower made with a 5 gallon camp shower bag hung in a tree, the stars and the crickets. We don't need no stinkin' electricity.

I admit we do like having it though. But like the previous winter when a snow storm hit hard and a tree pulled the power line off our house and we could not get them out here for 10 days. We didn't freak. I keep a well stocked pantry. And we have a screened in porch so food can stay cold and away from the wildlife. We heat with a wood stove that we can also cook on.
And I welcome the break from the phone, the internet and the TV. Larry plays guitar, we both sing, love to read and we love to talk with each other. We also use the kerosene lamps at times for a break from electric lights or candles if we are feeling romantic.

So to us, an hour is no hardship, but we respect those who have a hard time with an hour. And we hope that an hour can teach a lesson. Now, anyone up for a month?
(painting of Owl by Larry)

Electric Off for Earth Hour

See you in an hour internet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Biga** Hot Pockets

Larry calls these Bigass Hot Pockets. He is so funny. He renames things all the time.
I just call them,

Easy Chicken Turnovers.

2 pie crusts. (Homemade or store bought).
1 Tbl. Olive oil or canola oil
2 chicken breasts.( Boneless skinless is fine, but bone in has more flavor when cooked).
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
a nice sprinkle of sea salt or 1/4 tsp regular salt
3 nice carrots chopped. (about 1 1/4c)
4 medium potatoes cut into bite size pieces.
1/2 can of peas, fresh or frozen or canned.
2 cups of chicken gravy. Thick. Homemade or store bought.

I use bone in chicken with the skin on because it has a lot more flavor when cooked and makes a good gravy. Season chicken with seasonings and cook through, about 15 minutes on the skin side then turn over for 10 minutes on the back side. If you are using boneless skinless, cut into chunks first and pan fry until all pink is gone. About 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.
(If using homemade gravy, use chicken drippings to make a gravy at this point and steam potatoes and carrots in a small amount of water, in another pot just till done, then add to gravy, I am using gravy I had left over from a previous meal). Take pie crust out of fridge so it can come to room temperature.

Add potatoes and carrots to skillet with a small amount of water and cover to steam, While veggies are steaming cut chicken up into chunks if on the bone, give skin to dogs.
Add gravy and peas to steamed veggies, stir well.
Add chicken chunks. Turn off burner and preheat oven to 375'.

Unroll 1 dough and fold gently in half to make a crease so you can see where the middle is. Lay out flat on cookie sheet.

Spoon filling onto one half and gently fold dough over and crimp edges.

Poke a few fork pokes into to to let steam out while baking. Lay the second dough next to the first, fold and crease, open up so half lays over onto 1st dough, fill, fold over and crimp, poke with fork.Place onto center of rack and bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

I like to serve with a salad and applesauce.
You can also make this with chicken, potatoes,broccoli and cheese.
Or ground turkey, onions, peppers, pinto beans and cheese.
Or Turkey pastrami, drained sauerkraut and swiss cheese. Sprinkle 1 Tbl. of flour on crust before filling to soak up any moisture from sauerkraut.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tricky Trainers Do the Trick - Giveaway

I have three smart dogs. Smart because they have figured out that they don't have to do tricks to be spoiled rotten.
I have tried, at times, to get them to do certain things, like sit, stay , lay down, roll over. But basically they look at me as if to say "hey, this ain't no circus". Now, they do mind. But it seems like that only happens when I am being stern and they know to "go get in your bed" or " get out of my chair, before I sit on your head". They will move, reluctantly, but they will move. Well, all except one little stubborn all white doggie who will remain nameless. He talks back. Always has to have the last word.

But the times, they are a changin'.


Gosh I love these things. I have made my boys treats, but they have never gone crazy like this over anything I have made.Mikey and Ricky Pickles sit for a Tricky Trainer.
Cloud Star sent a bag of the Cheese Flavor and the Salmon Flavor. And you know how when you read a food label the ingredients are listed in order of the amount, from the most to the least. Well in the Salmon ones...Salmon is the FIRST ingredient. WOW. No wonder Larry calls them "stinky trainers". My boys are nuts over these.Mikey "speaks" for a Tricky Trainer.

And the great thing is, I can actually pronounce everything in them. The only thing on the ingredient list I did not know was "tocopherois". So I looked it up.
It is a series of organic compounds consisting of various methylated phenols. Many of which have vitamin E activity. And are used in pet foods to keep oil from going rancid. Okay,I am good with that.
I love that they are small. So you can constantly reward without the fear of too much of a good thing.
Their products are also geared towards pets with allergies. It was Jennifer and Brennan's pup Samantha, back in 1998, who inspired starting Cloud Star. The first Buddy Biscuit was made for Samantha because of "allergy issues". They started making all her treats and food with just the goal of bring her back to health. In 1999 Jennifer was volunteering at an Animal Shelter that held a bake sale and instead of making something to sell for human treats Jennifer made up a few batches of the treats she made for Samantha and their other dog Nala. These treats were a hit, they started getting calls asking for more, and the rest is dogstory.

I first became aware of Cloud Star last year when I signed up on their facebook page and received a free fold-able water container that I keep in my purse. It has a handy pouch and is a really good size. They also sent me a bumper sticker with their motto "Wag More, Bark Less" and I just fell in love with that. It's a great motto for all of us. And this is printed on apparel and accessories they sell on their website.
They also have quite a few other treats, kibble and grooming products. (The Holistic Baked Kibble Dog Food is back after being out of stock due to being mentioned in Costco Connection magazine and thus bombarding Cloud Star with orders).

I like Cloud Star very much. I like that they give back at least 10% of their net profits to support and assist non-profits organizations that benefit animals, women, children and the environment.
I like that all their products are made in the USA (all ingredients are USA grown too) and I like that they truly care about animals.
Oh, and I like that my boys are crazy about Tricky Trainers.

(I received two bags of product for review purposes. I was pleased with the product very much so I wrote about it)

Cloud Star wants to send some Tricky Trainers to a lucky reader of this here blog.
To win a 3 pack of Tricky Trainers Liver flavor, Cheese Flavor and the Salmon Flavor please do the following:

MANDATORY ENTRY: Go visit Cloud Star and come back with something you like about their site, blog or products.

Extra Entries (do the MANDATORY first please): leave seperate comments for each,

  • Leave me a comment about your pet. Something funny they do. Or how wonderful they are, anything about your pet.- 1 extra
  • Follow my blog publicly, or tell me you already do - 2 extras
  • Subscribe in a reader - 2 extras
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link - 2 per day
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post - 4 extras

This giveaway ends at midnight April 3rd. Open to USA only.
Winner will be notified by email. And will have 48 hours to send me shipping info.
Please make sure email contact is in your comment or your blog profile if you have a blog.
Cloud Star will ship prize.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Total Library Score, You May Be Able to do the Same.

Larry and I live outside a very small town, so the people who work at the library know us. One of the women there has brought in beads for me to use in my jewelry and she orders books for me because she knows my reading habits and knows I will like what she orders.

So this past week when we went, she told me they had put some books on the sale shelf...Cookbooks!

The sale shelf is an area they have set aside with shelves going floor to almost ceiling that holds books they have replaced with newer editions, books that are outdated or have slight damage.
But still great books.
There is an honor box that you can slide a few bills or some change into to support one of the few free public services we have left. ( a pretty wonderful public service)

Anyway, here is the Library Love I scored this past week.

So if you love books, please support your local library. And if you like to collect books, ask if they have a discard cart or a library sale or shelf.

Also another thing I do, I check out books from the library and if I love the book, I go to Amazon or and buy it.
A great way to get a list of books that you may not have heard about like craft books or cookbooks is to go to Amazon and do a search. I search in the book category for "jewelry" and page after page of jewelry making books pop up. I copy down the titles, then go to my library's online site and order the books.
If my local small library does not have it on their shelves, they will order it from another library to be delivered to my library and call me when it comes in, or they can email you.

Now, I'm not saying "kill the Kindle", but it is mighty hard to curl up in bed with your four year old and look at the pretty pictures in a book when they are on a 5" screen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Sweet Romantic Blog Anniversary

I was out Blog Hopping as I do to relax sometimes and came across this oh so sweet blog.
Robin's Egg Blues blog is the type of blog that if it were a book it would be a real "page turner". Glimpses into Linda K's life, her beautiful family, doggies made from flowers, tutorials, vintage finds, and just sweetness.

Linda is hosting an Anniversary Giveaway. Please stop by her blog and wish her a Happy Anniversary. And then follow the directions to maybe win a beautiful pile of black, white and ivory romance and elegance.

Winners of the Follower Love Giveaway.

It was a complicated, drawn out, exhaustive, scientific method that provided the 3 winners to my giveaway.
But we came together and went through the extensive process of gathering all the names and extra entries. Compiling them into a vessel worthy of the occasion.

Then bringing in the team of experts , who would use their expertise in studying the varying degrees of variables and make their recommendations.
So basically Ricky Pickles and Mikey pulled names out of a bowl.

One of the experts became so engaged in his work that he refused to give up his findings, and received a stern warning from one of his superiors.
After accepting that his findings would instill joy in the happy recipient of those findings he graciously released them to become public knowledge. Sharon.

Mr. Pickles then stated, after regaining his composure, that he sends his best regards to the recipient, and that he hopes she will enjoy all the components of being the Grand Prize Winner.

While all this excitement was taking place, Mr. Mikey, our resident floor patroller, quietly chose 2 other deserving recipients. Although he likes to remain in the background, he said he felt it his duty to lend a paw.

Mr. Mikes findings. Bison61 and Makeetis.

All winners have been notified.
Thank you all who entered and thank you all so much who follow this here blog. It means so much to me. And the theme of this contest was to show how much you mean to me.
The prizes put into the box represent things I blog about, and items I enjoy using and having around me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Great Thing To Do In Bed.

A new blog friend The Redhead Riter had this on her blog. Check her out, what amazing blogs she has. I just had to pass it on to share. I too say this is art.

ZEVIA - All Natural Soda Giveaway

CLOSED- Winners are Jade, cdziuba and Jamie. All have been notified.
Thank you all who entered. More Giveaways coming soon.
I stopped drinking most soda years ago unless it was home made. Home made being Larry and I buying carbonated water and adding it to juice. Usually grape. Larry is hypoglycemic and he really has to be careful with anything he puts in his mouth.
I did buy the occasional ginger ale for mixing purposes or lemon lime if ginger ale was not available.

And diet soda? Forgetaboudit....I have never met a diet soda I liked or ingredients in one I could agree with.
That is until NOW.
NOW I have met and drank ZEVIA..oh yeah baby...It's sweetened with Stevia. ZEVIA is what all the cool kids are drinking. And hey, I'm cool....right? I'm still cool?....*crickets chirping*

Anyway, Zevia is a "diet" soda I guess, but to me it's just smart thirst quenching.
I mean come on peeps, we all know the high fructose corn syrup ain't cutting it. And sugar comes in many guises....that we are all trying to step back from, especially in drinks as there can be so much in them. Plus I really am one who reads labels, and if I can't pronounce something or I don't know what something is, I do not ingest it. (please do your research on ALL artificial sweeteners before thinking about using them).

The kind generous people over at ZEVIA sent me a great selection of all their flavors. And I like every one of them. I tell you, I do not drink cola any longer. When I was a kid, cola had a lot of flavor and over the years, it just lost any appeal to me, plus all the stuff I mentioned above happened, so I just do not drink it.
So when I opened a ZEVIA Cola I was apprehensive. I poured it into a glass of ice and had it with a plate of nachos. Oh my Gosh, I actually enjoyed it. I yelled out to Larry that I had a cola one and it was good.
I had a "Twist" in a mixed drink and that was really good too. I had a "Dr. Zevia" today and that is my favorite. Larry likes the Root Beer the best.
These guys have hit on the perfect formula.

Zevia has an interesting website. Read about the history of their company, their struggle to get Zevia marketed as "soda", a blog, and locations where you can get your Zevia.

Also here's some great news they received earlier this month : "We received big news. In the natural food channel, ZEVIA® Cola is now the #1 selling beverage item in the United States!
The rankings come from SPINS, which collects and reports actual retail purchase data from natural food stores across the country. Spins® to natural food products is like Nielson® to television, or Arbitron® to radio." (taken from the Zevia Blog.)

All in all, I just like this company. I like their spunk. I like that when they ran into road blocks they stood their ground because they knew they had a great healthy product. I like that they recognize that their customers make them what they are in the retail world. And I like that Larry has a soda he can drink. Thanks Guys, you've done a good thing. Oh and I like that they have a frog as one of their logo's.

And now you can try Zevia and taste what all my kuddos are about.


One lucky commenter will be known as the Grand Prize Winner and have a whole case of ZEVIA delivered right to your door. Yep, a whole mixed case.
BUT WAIT! thats not all!
Two more winners will each get a mixed 6-pack delivered to them. YAY!

Mandatory entry:
Go to Zevia and tell me the most interesting thing you found on their site, their blog, or a link that you followed from there to another site.

Extra Entries:
  • Go to Zevia and tell me what flavor you think your kids or yourself would like. 1 extra
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link. 2 extra per day that you tweet.
  • Follow this blog 3 extra
  • Blog about this giveaway on your blog and leave me the link. 5 extra
  • Make a 1 minute video on youtube about my blog and this giveaway and leave the link 15 extra (no one has ever done this on my the first!)

Ends March 24th at midnight.
Winners will be notified by email.
Winners have 48 hours to get back to me with shipping info.
Zevia will be sending prizes to winners.

(I received no monetary compensation for this review. I did receive a case of ZEVIA to try out. I like it. So I wrote about it.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who doesn't love getting packages? POM, Canada Goodies and a Sweet Owl.

This past couple of weeks I have had some great mail. Yes, even SNAIL MAIL can be great when there are packages involved.

First off, I won a case of POM. Yummmm Pomegranate juice is so cool. Because it's good for you. Tart, but perfect in a spritzer, or mixed half and half with orange juice.
I won over at The Review Broads. this link will take you to one of their fabulous giveaways. They also do movie reviews and have Bro B show up once in awhile with a review of his own.

I had forgotten that I entered to win the juice, so the case showing up was a most wonderful surprise.

And I also received this box. What could it be?

I opened it up and this was inside....

Some CANADIAN Goodies! YAY!

The Sweet ANN from over at AnnOnAndOn had a little contest to caption a photo and I won. Of course I won, it was a photo of her sweetie and their doggy.
Ann is just as cute as she can be. She is creative, funny and she asks "burning questions", the one's that do make you stop and think. Also she hosts a big card swap which I am thinking of joining. And she talks in her sleep. I couldn't resist adding that, as the post about it cracked me up. Thats actually not ALL that was in the box, there was a hard candy maple Leaf and I could not resist it long enough to go get the camera.
Thank you so much Ann. I love my goodies.

Then today I received this darling...

I found Martha Brown's blog m-is-for-martha during the OWOH blog event and fell in love with Andy, her doggy. He just looked so sweet in his new sweater I had to leave a comment.
When all was said and done with OWOH, Martha Brown picked extra random winners and I was lucky enough , because of my Andy comment, to get in on the action.
So Martha Brown sent me this darling little owl WHOO is now hanging in the little purple room. A published artist and a great blogger, please check Martha Brown out.
(I just like saying "Martha Brown")

Giveaway Addition. Somerset Studio Mag +

Please enter the giveaway on the original giveaway post. The link is ---->
On the sidebar on the right.

There is a Somerset Studio Magazine. Corrugated cardboard, a vintage pattern with all the pieces there, a childrens book to alter, Italian book pages, an old art pamphlet 2 collage sheets from Lisa'a Altered Art, various cutouts from magazines and books, mulberry paper, oragami paper, an original vintage song lyric magazine from 1944, a piece of a cicuit board, some silk yarn from an Indian Sari, a switchplate to alter and 3 vintage wooden blocks.

I could not get on here to add stuff for yesterday to the giveaway.
I had the Dish network guys here in the morning, Larry finally got his Big Screen TV...YAY...for him. I could give a crap. HAHAHAHA It's true. I really could live without the TV. I have a few shows I like to watch and I like Fox News, but other than that....phhstttt.
But they had to put in a new dish, and that meant they were here for awhile.
And with three dogs who go apeshit when anyone new comes around, well I had to keep them in the room with me and I cannot lay stuff out to photograph very well. Ricky Pickles just dumped coffee all over me this morning, so that goes to show.
Then after the Dish guys left it started storming here. Lightening and pouring. We turn off the PC's when that happens even though we have great surge protectors we worry, so off it all goes.
It rained most of the day. And last night I started feeling bad, as in sore throat variety bad, I'm better now. Seems my sinuses are acting up.
So without further ado....go enter the giveaway. There are close up pics on the Giveaway Post.

Friday, March 12, 2010

GIVEAWAY! Louisiana's Mossy Bayou Gift Pack.

Closed- Winner is #11 Bombastic Belle

I have had the pleasure this week of trying Louisiana Swamp Scum Hot Sauce, Bayou Blend Seasoning and Louisiana Popcorn Rice from an award winning company in Louisiana named Mossy Bayou Foods.

The Louisiana Popcorn Rice:
Let me tell you, I love this stuff. And those who know me, know, I am not an eater of rice not brown.
But THIS RICE rocks!
When it is cooking you get the aroma of popcorn in your kitchen, plus it cooks up perfectly.
I usually season my rice with something pertaining to the dish I am cooking, but I left this alone, just to see if it lived up to its name. And it does. Delicate kernels (is rice kernels?) not sticky at all. With a nice, not overbearing taste of popcorn. I did sauté it a bit in a little butter before adding the water.

The Bayou Blend seasoning:
It is spicy and hot. A little goes a long way. Very smokey ( I love smokey) and different layers of flavor and heat. Start out sparingly till you find your comfort zone. But you will delight in the flavor it adds. I tossed it with the chicken chunks in my recipe.
This seasoning would also be great on shrimp, pork, steak, or fish. Used in Gumbo,paella, on a slab of ribs. Plain or with other herbs in a dry rub. Loads of dishes would be great with this sprinkled in. Next time I make cornbread I'm adding a good sprinkle of this to the recipe.

As for the Louisiana Swamp Scum Hot Sauce:
It looks like swamp scum. But it tastes far better than any swamp scum I've ever tasted. Don't ask me how I know this, just trust does.
Must be a Louisiana thing.
It is green...well actually a grayish/blackish green. And there's a thickness to it...perhaps tiny things floating around in it.
This stuff is Mmmm Mmmm GOOD!

I don't even care what's in it. I just know I like it. I had it on my omelette this morning. And it just added so much flavor. It is a little smokey too. And while it has some heat, it is not really that hot. So you get the flavor without your taste buds crying.

And now that you Dear Readers have read and seen how good this stuff is you can....TASTE how good it is.


Thats right one lucky reader will win a gift pack of Louisiana Popcorn Rice, Bayou Blend Seasoning and Louisiana Swamp Scum Hot Sauce.

Mandatory entry: Head over to Mossy Bayou and tell me another product they have.
(This comment will not show up until the end of the giveaway to prevent copying.)

Extra Entries:
  • Follow this here blog then tell me. If you already do...tell me. 2 extras
  • Grab my button on the sidebar with the 2 piggies and leave a link to where you post it. 2 extras
  • Tweet about this giveaway and leave me the link to the tweet. 2 extras
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this blog AND a link to Mossy Bayou, come back and tell me the link to your blog.. 5 extras

This giveaway will end March 21st. At Midnight est.
Prize will be sent by Mossy Bayou to winner.
Winner will be notified via email.
Winner has 72 hours to send me their shipping info.
I received gift pack from Mossy Bayou Foods to try out for review purposes. All opinions are from my own taste buds.

But, my oh my, swamp guys....there are no recipes on your site....
Okay, here's one I made up.

Down on the Bayou Chicken and Rice with Beans

1 1/2 c. of the Louisiana Popcorn Rice
2 tsp. butter or olive oil
2 cups of water
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 tsp.Bayou Blend Seasoning
2 chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 tsp. Bayou Blend Seasoning
1/2 tsp oregano
Couple of grinds of black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tsp. olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions (optional)

In medium bowl, toss chicken with Bayou Blend Seasoning, oregano,pepper and oil, let sit while you start rice.

In a saucepan, melt butter or heat oil, add Louisiana Popcorn Rice and stir to coat.
Sauté for about 4 minutes on medium.
Add water and bring to boil, turn down heat till just simmering and cover. Set timer for 6 minutes and then check, add water if needed, set timer for 6 more minutes. It should be done in 12 minutes all together from boiling point.

In small pan or microwave bowl, heat pinto beans. Season with 1/2 tsp. Of Bayou Blend Seasoning.

Sauté vegetables in 2 tsp. of oil till opaque, push to one side of skillet and add chicken. Cook till no longer pink. stir into vegetables, turn down heat and cook an additional 3 minutes.

Fluff the rice. Stir the beans.
Place rice on each plate, place beans on top, put chicken over beans and sprinkle with green onions.
Serve with Louisiana Swamp Scum Hot Sauce.
Serves 4

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Giveaway adds Hummingbird Feeder, Rubber Stamps and Books

I have been adding new stuff to the Giveaway every day.
Don't forget to enter. Scroll down to see all the goodies.

Plus there is more to come.
There will be 3 winners.
Grand Prize wins everything listed plus a jewelry item from my shop.
2 other winners win jewelry too.

There really are some great items here.

Please enter, there are so many ways to get extra entries.
Plus fun questions of the day so you get to go look around.

I love my followers and really want to show it.
Plus there is CANDY ! yes, a cool star shaped tin with some CHOCOLATE in it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tell-a-Tip-Tuesday Got Food?

(Don't forget to enter my HUGE blog follower Love Giveaway, it's around here somewhere. New stuff added daily to the box.)

WOW, Have you been to the supermarket lately? Of course you have. Does it seem that although you buy basically the same stuff each week, you are not paying the same total at the cash register each week? Of course you're not.

And frankly, that sucks. Items are not going up a penny here, three cents there. They are going up 20-30 cents between grocery store visits.
What's a regular person who needs to eat and perhaps have to feed a family, to do?

Actually there are a number of things that may help put that food on the table, and they are all pretty easy to do.
Larry and I have an income that fluctuates. Part of it is fixed, as in Social Security Retirement for him. But mine is up and down.
We really try to live on my income and save his. It does not work out that way EVERY month though.
Ahhh Internet income, you are a fickle thing.
So I have to get creative, do homework, dig in the dirt, clip coupons, and cross various body parts.

Here are a few things I do that seem to help our food bill, if you have more ideas please share.

1. Have a garden. Even a few tomato and pepper plants in a large pot on a porch can do wonders for your tummy and your psyche.
If you live in an apartment and do not have anyplace to grow, consider joining a community garden or a CSA. Maybe you have an older person in your neighborhood who has a garden and you could help in trade.

2.Buy local produce that you cannot grow yourself. Those veggies at the market are trucked in. Not very fresh and are probably covered in
stuff you do not want to feed yourself or your kids. Farmers markets are everywhere. And there are also "pick your own" farms for berries
and other items.

3. Join a food co-op. I was a member of one for 20 years. I joined in high school when it started in someones basement and it grew into a
warehouse setting. Members pay shares every month and it is used to buy in bulk. Working members may then get an additional percentage off what they buy for hours worked, while non-working members have a slight markup on what they buy. Work can consist of ordering, unloading boxes, cutting cheese and wrapping, weighing bulk items and packaging....

4. Find a store that doubles coupons and shop the sale flyers. Do not buy a bunch of stuff you do not use just because you have coupons. Leave the coupons you clipped but are not using on top of the items on the shelf for someone else. Thats what I do. It's nice to come across a coupon left by someone else.

5. Shop scratch and dent. Krogers here has a rack in a doorway in the back of the store. Everything is marked down. Some dented cans, some taped boxes. But always worth a look. We get dog food for the no kill shelter we support there.

6. See if there is a place that deals in discontinued and scratch and dent. There are actually small stores that only sell these items.
Here, it is the Amish store. They have shelves and shelves full of discounted coffee, canned items, spices, paper goods. Some from stores that go out of business, discontinued items, some scratch and dented. Larry makes his own soda with carbonated water he gets for a nickel a can there and adds grape juice to for grape soda. I get coffee there for 1.00- 3.00 a can. The BIG cans.

7. Lay off the processed foods and cook more from scratch. Get a breadmaker. From ebay, an auction or craigslist. Maybe at a yard sale.
You can make healthy bread for super cheap. Cook more rice and beans, then dress it up with chopped scallions, shredded cheese and sour cream. Make homemade pizza, throw the dough ingredients in that breadmaker.

8. More grain and veggies, less meat. Or maybe NO meat. Maybe NO meat a couple times a week.

9. Get together with other cooks you know and work out a supper club. Each cook has a specialty and makes enough for each family in the club. Everyone delivers to each other and puts the meals in their freezers. Now you only cook once a week for all the families and on all the other nights you pull something out of the freezer. (well if you have 7 cooks, if you have 4 cooks then you do not have to cook 3 days a week).

10. Cook a big pot of soup, stew or chili and freeze for families on busy schedules. This cuts down on those really expensive lunchmeats.

11. Use a crockpot. This frees up time, and you can use less tender cuts of meat that are less expensive. Plus if you work, there is NOTHING like coming home to dinner already done. Get a crock pot with the inside that you can remove, throw everything in it the night before, stick it in the fridge and in the morning put it in the pot part and turn it on low.

12. Use your library. They have issues of the "Tightwad Gazette" and cookbooks galore. Breadmaker books, crockpot recipe books.

13. Brown bag it. Get the kids a Bento Box for a birthday or Christmas and make it fun.

14. Get your kids involved. Whether its gardening, cooking, planning menus, figuring out the best deals at the grocery store it is an invaluable service to our young folk to help them help themselves.

Visit Coupon Mom to learn even more about smart couponing and to see grocery deals state by state.

Anyone else have any other tips?

Monday, March 8, 2010

What Our Boys Eat - Recipe

(Don't forget to enter my HUGE blog follower Love Giveaway, it's around here somewhere. New stuff added daily to the box.)

When we first got Jack he was a mess. Scared of everything, would pee himself in his sleep, would not go to Larry when we would come home from being off until Larry would sit down, seemed a bit depressed.
We got him from a couple that have a few Jack Russells for sale now and then and we had originally called them about buying a pup. When we got out there, Jack was in a fenced area along with a little puppy. Jack was older almost 2 and they said he had been brought back from the previous buyers.

We brought him home. We knew someone would take the cute tiny puppy, but we were not sure Jack would get a home.

His coat was very coarse. And he smelled a bit. Even after a bath.
So I started making his food. And after last years scare over pet food from China making pets sick and even killing some pets...well I'm really glad I make the boy's food now.
So I thought I would write what I do. I also make treats for them. And the next time I get out the cookie cutters and roll out the dough, I will post that also.

But here is their basic every day food.
I feed them twice a day. They are very high energy dogs so they get their main meal in the mid morning and a bit more when we eat dinner. I really believe dogs view us as a "pack" and I think it is important that when Larry and I eat our dinner we eat it as a "pack", I think this helps us in the bonding with our boys. (No we do not all sit at the table together, we all eat on the floor...kidding)

Turkey and Brown Rice with Vegetables

2 lbs of ground turkey, browned in 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup of dried soy beans (soaked in 2 cups of water overnight) - or you can use 2 cans of great northern or red beans or chick peas
2 lbs brown rice, I never use white rice for anything
1 lb of carrots- cut into bite size pieces. You can also use brocolli, zuchinni,spinach.
Enough broth or water to cover everything

Heat olive oil in large pot.
Brown turkey in oil till just done.
Add rice and stir till coated with oil.
Add dried beans if using dried. If using canned put in at end.
Add enough broth or water to totally cover all about 5-6 cups.
Bring to a boil, cover turn down heat and simmer about 20 minutes, add veggies and simmer 20 more min.
Keep an eye so that water does not evaporate and so that rice does not burn. Add more water if needed.
When time is up, stir in canned beans if using canned. Let cool and bag up to freeze.

I also stir in a spoonful of cottage cheese when I put the food into their bowl. This helps in digestion, plus they are cheese freaks and love it. I also add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast when I feed them.
When I make soy milk I save the pulp and use that instead of the dried beans.

Our boys have bright eyes, soft shiny coats and play all the time. They are muscular, but not fat.
They love their meals. And Jack, well Jack is the most well behaved, loving sweet boy. He no longer cries in his sleep,doesn't pee in his bed, actually smells pretty good, have a soft shiny coat and acts like a young pup.

Ricky Pickles checking the soy bean bin.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Face Book and Bitter Sweetness

When you get to be my age you find yourself skating more and more on your memories.
When the sun starts to set, your bright spots come in the form of old friends. Remembrances of wishes wished on a star.
A name. A place mentioned on a TV show. A song. All can trigger something obscure that immediately takes us back to a happier, livelier time.

The past few months I have been doing what a lot of us do on Face book. Looking up people we have memories of. Good memories. And when you get to be my age, those memories can be bitter sweet.

Tonight I called a guy from my past, we'll call Mike (cause that's his name). I had a crush on Mike in the 10th grade. He was a year ahead of me. And that in itself made him even more attractive to me. Because I was way ahead of myself age wise in school.
Mike was really something to me because he was sweet, was a fox, had long hair and played guitar. He also had some friends that rode around in a van and that was one of the coolest things you could do in 1973.
Mike and I never "hooked up", instead we did something a lot better. We became good friends. He is my brother.
When I talked to him tonight, he sounded the same as he did all those years ago.
We were actually friends beyond high school. He lived around the corner from me, in the same building but a separate entrance, when Sarah was a babe. He also lived a block down the same street from us when Donovan was a little guy. He became friends with my kids and he and I remained good friends when his girlfriend entered the picture. I have not talked with him in 20 years.
I loved him then and I still love him now. I hope with all my heart he will come and visit Larry and I. And bring his brother who I also came to know and love.

I also found another friend who I never got to speak with since 20 years ago, she passed away a few years back. I found her youngest daughter on facebook. The daughter has a picture of my old friend on her page, she looks sweet. But her eyes are hollow, due to alcoholism. You see, her older daughter, the one my Sarah grew up with, was killed in a go cart accident back in the late 90's and it drove my friend deeper into the bottle that was already pulling her in. The last time I saw her, I was leary of keeping contact with her. And I let our friendship fall by the wayside. I wish I could have said goodbye one last time. And been there for her when she lost her daughter.

Two different friends. Two different scenarios. One me. Back then we thought we would never get old. the world was our oyster. Every day a given.
I have learned that we are all different but we are all the same.
We grow up thinking we will be the same as we are in that moment. But life has a way of creeping in and taking over. We do not have control. Things happen, life goes on. We stay in touch, we lose touch. But all in all, we stay connected in our memories.